Cablegate: Shanghai Expanding Educational Opportunities for Migrant

DE RUEHGH #0103/01 0810852
R 210852Z MAR 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

SHANGHAI 00000103 001.2 OF 003

1. (SBU) Summary: As in many other large Chinese cities, the
Shanghai Municipal Government is exploring ways to improve the
quality of education for migrant children. The Shanghai
Education Commission (SEC) in January 2008 announced plans to
increase the proportion of migrant children in Shanghai enrolled
in public schools to 70 percent by 2010. Currently, 57 percent
of migrant children attend Shanghai public schools. The
municipal government will provide subsidies to qualified private
schools to accept migrant children. During a visit to the Pu
Guang migrant school in Pudong, Congenoffs learned that many
migrant school facilities and quality of education lag far
behind Shanghai public schools. The school only had 20 teachers
for its 700 students and it lacked facilities such as a computer
lab. Like many migrant schools, the Pu Guang School is working
hard to improve its level of education, meet the SEC's standards
for private schools and receive subsidies from the Shanghai
government. End Summary.

Compulsory Education for
Migrant Children

2. (U) According to Shanghai government statistics, there are
more than 4 million migrant workers in Shanghai. However there
were limited education options for migrant children through the
1990s. At that time, public schools usually only accepted
children with proof of local residence registration (hukou). As
a result, migrant schools emerged to service the migrant
community. Although most Shanghai private schools do not have
strict hukou requirements, their fees are usually too high for
migrant workers. Migrant schools charge considerably less
tuition, but conditions and quality of education lag far behind
Shanghai public schools. In 2001, the Central Government
decreed that local governments with large migrant populations
must take the main responsibility for ensuring that migrant
children have access to compulsory education and that public
schools should serve as the main channel in providing education
to migrant children.

Shanghai's Efforts

3. (U) Like many large cities, Shanghai is exploring different
ways to promote compulsory education for migrant children. In
January 2008, the Shanghai Education Commission (SEC) announced
a new policy on compulsory education for migrant children in
Shanghai with the goal of enrolling 70 percent of migrant
children in public schools by 2010. One of the Shanghai
Municipal Government's key programs for 2008 is to increase
enrollment of migrant children in Shanghai's public schools to
60 percent of all migrant children. Congenoffs met with SEC
Basic Education Department Vice Director Ling Xiaofeng on March
7 to discuss the SEC's efforts. Her section is responsible for
making policies, planning, allocating resources and supervision
of policy execution on the "Compulsory Education Law" in
Shanghai. Ling said that according to statistics from September
2007, there are nearly 380,000 migrant children in Shanghai,
297,000 of which are elementary school age and the remaining are
junior high school age. Among them, 57 percent are enrolled in
public schools, approximately 216,900 children. The other
162,900 migrant children are enrolled in 258 migrant children
schools scattered mostly in Shanghai's suburban districts.
Except for a few migrant schools located in Shanghai's urban
Putuo and Yangpu districts, there are no migrant schools in
Shanghai's urban areas. Migrant children living in other urban
districts attend public schools.

4. (U) Since 2004, the Shanghai Municipal Government has
allocated 30 million RMB every year to support migrant
children's education in suburban districts. In 2007, the
Shanghai government carried out renovations at all 240 migrant
schools extant at that time to improve facilities at the schools
such as lighting, cafeterias, safety features, toilets, etc. At
the same time, the local government has bought insurance for all
schools. In order to improve the quality of education at the
schools, SEC has initiated a series of measures such as sending
experienced teachers (some of whom are retired) to migrant
schools, connecting each migrant school with one public school
as sister schools and holding training seminars for migrant
school principals.

Shanghai Increases Resources for
Migrant Children's Education

5. (U) In addition to enrolling 60 percent of migrant children
in public schools in 2008, the Shanghai Municipal Government

SHANGHAI 00000103 002.2 OF 003

wants to transform 60 migrant schools into private schools.
Usually, the education quality of private schools in Shanghai is
higher than the general level of public schools and private
schools usually charge 5,000-6500 RMB (about USD 700-900) for
one semester. Actually SEC wants to administer those qualified
migrant schools as private schools now. However, the standard
for qualified migrant schools is still lower than general level
of local schools. According to Ling, there are fewer public
schools in suburban areas where most migrant children live. One
of the SEC's goals is to reduce the gap between educational
resources in urban and suburban districts. SEC is coordinating
with district educational bureaus to allocate and adjust
educational resources according to the change of population
growth and distribution. In order to make up for the lack of
public schools in some districts, SEC is encouraging the
development of private schools. The SEC plans to buy services
from private schools and will pay private schools to accept
migrant children. In the Pudong district, private schools can
get 1900 (more than USD 250) per year for absorbing one migrant
child. In addition, Shanghai has begun to transform qualified
migrant schools into private schools. To become a private
school, a migrant school must meet the criteria on teachers'
qualifications, educational quality and adequacy of school

6. (U) As for migrant children enrolled in public schools, these
children have the same rights as local children and do not need
to pay tuition and book fees. Ling noted that some public
schools do not have the capacity to accept large numbers of
migrant children. These schools require that migrant children
provide a long list of documents, including birth certificates,
residence certificates, proof of their parents' employment, etc.
For many migrant children it is difficult to obtain all of
these documents. For these reasons, many migrant children
continue to attend migrant schools, which charge 500 to 900 RMB
(USD 70-125) per semester.

The Pu Guang Migrant School

7. (U) On March 5, Congenoffs visited the Pu Guang Migrant
School located on the outskirts of Shanghai. The Pu Guang
Migrant School is typical of many migrant schools in Shanghai.
It is located in a run-down three-story building, hidden among
country cottages. The school's principal, Mr. Zhou, provided a
tour of the facilities. The school provides both elementary and
junior high school education to approximately 700 students.
There are only 20 teachers at the school and 10 administrative
staff members, most of whom are themselves migrants. Students
come from different parts of China and live near the school with
their parents. Unlike many migrant schools, Pu Guang does not
provide school buses and most students ride bicycles to school.

8. (U) The school was established in 1998 and has moved its
campus several times. The current school building was built in
2005. With some financial support from the Pudong Development
Bureau, the school was able to renovate its cafeteria, clinic,
and campus in 2007. Zhou said that the school is very
interested in transforming itself into a private school and is
taking measures to meet the SEC's standards for private schools.
Four migrant schools in Pudong have already successfully met
the SEC's standards and transformed themselves into private
schools. The current tuition in Pu Guang is about 600 RMB (USD
85) per semester.

9. (SBU) Mr. Zhou readily admitted that his school's facilities
are inadequate. For example, the school tried to set up a
computer lab, but all of the computers they received as
donations were broken. Friends of the school are trying to fix
the computers. Mr. Zhou hopes that the school will meet the
SEC's standards and receive subsidies. Until then, it relies
mainly on tuition fees and occasional grants from the Pudong
Society Development Bureau.

Comment: A Long-Term Challenge

10. (SBU) Although Shanghai has one of the best educational
systems in China, the city still struggles with trying to
provide the same level of education for both migrant and local
children. In addition to improving education for migrant
children, the SEC is also under pressure to improve education
for local children and to increase the quality of education in
suburban areas. These pressures will continue and are likely to
be of higher priority to the SEC. It is also likely that
migrant families will continue to flock to Shanghai searching
for jobs, increasing the number of migrant children in need of
education. All of these factors indicate that the SEC will

SHANGHAI 00000103 003.2 OF 003

likely be struggling with finding a way to improve the quality
of education for migrant children for some years to come.

© Scoop Media

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